Box art for Punisher: War Zone

Punisher: War Zone

action & adventure, thrillers

Continuing his crusade to punish violent criminals in America, former FBI agent Frank Castle arrives in New York to take on a scarred villain who plots to take control of the underworld.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
5 out of 5

Violent vigilante comic book story is gory, grim stuff.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this over-the-top action movie is unrepentantly violent, with a body count in the dozens and constant extreme, grisly depictions of hand-to-hand combat, gunshot wounds, explosions, industrial accidents, and much more. The movie's tone is also very moody and bleak -- it may be based on a popular Marvel comic book character, but it's not kids' stuff. It's more akin to the adventures of Dirty Harry than those of Spider-Man. Not only does the film tacitly endorse the vigilante "hero" and his violent methods, but so do law enforcement characters -- who either turn a blind eye to his activities or actively help him. Characters also use extremely strong language, drink, and use drugs (some are shown snorting cocaine).

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the appeal of extreme violence on screen. What draws viewers to this kind of movie? What are the effects of watching so much grisly violence, even if it's intended to be deliberately over-the-top and cartoonish? Families can also discuss the film's endorsement of "going outside the law" to punish criminals who've evaded the consequences of their actions. Do the ends ever justify the means? What other recourse do people have when the system doesn't work?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Does it have to be so witless, so stupid, so openly contemptuous of the very audience it(TM)s supposed to be pandering to?

- A.O. Scott, New York Times, Friday, December 5, 2008

Rotten: This is purely gutter, fanboy, Cheez Whiz cinema, but Alexander delivers the goods.

- Adam Graham, Detroit News, Friday, December 5, 2008

Rotten: You couldn't call it shoddy, exactly, and the actors take it painfully seriously; it's just dispiriting to see all this endeavour in the service of something so humourless and disgusting.

- Andrew Pulver, Guardian [UK], Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

2 stars

Shockingly, Punisher War Zone wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The plot was somewhat weak (it went to shit in the last act), the violence was ridiculously over-the-top (entertaining, too) and overall, there were just some aspects of this movie that were downright laughable and embarrassing. Especially the soundtrack. For all of Punisher War Zone's imperfections, I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel. Ray Stevenson was surprisingly good in the main role, the direction was pretty good and the overall mood from what I remember of the comic books seemed to make it to the screen. Or maybe it's just that the 2004 version of The Punisher was just so awful that this one just doesn't seem that bad.

- mjgildea, Sunday, July 4, 2010

2 stars

Better than the other two tries at the Punisher character but that isnt saying much. It did lack a naked Dolph Lungren.

- Godless, Wednesday, June 30, 2010

3 stars

Frank Castle accidentally kills an undercover FBI agent when he storms a mob stronghold, leaving him torn between protecting the man's family and hanging up his guns for good. Warzone is less a sequel than a reinvention of the previous film, and as a whole it is a big improvement. Ray Stevenson is a much more intense Punisher, and his guilt over the agent's death combined with his moral dilemma makes him a much more interesting character. The double act of Dominic West (dodgy accent notwithstanding) and Doug Hutchinson also make for much more interesting, larger than life villains and the action is far slicker and more exciting; in fact the whole film looks the part of a moody comic strip far more than the wishy washy original. The tone although still consciously aping the Batman films is much closer to the mark but it is still a bit too gleeful in its representation of some pretty nasty violence and some of the humour feels a little inappropriate because of it (the last line alone was enough to knock a half star off the score). Not in the same league as The Dark Knight, but a hell of a lot better than Ghost Rider.

- garyX, Tuesday, April 20, 2010